Pathfinder 2E Monster Building Rules

Paizo has posted the Building Creatures and Building Hazards sections from chapter 2 of the upcoming Gamemastery Guide for free download.

71KDHMyGoSL._AC._SR360,460.jpg

"As we’ve noted on some of our livestreams, the system for creating your own monsters and NPCs uses a top down system with benchmarks, allowing you to build a creature to match your top-level vision of that creature instead of requiring you to build them from the bottom up like a player character. This guide has all the relevant numbers for creating these creatures, as well as lessons on what you can do to make your monsters the best they can be. The numbers are a starting place, and your creativity really brings the monster to life. The hazard rules give you everything you need to create traps, environmental hazards, and haunts to menace your party."
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

dave2008

Legend
A single monster is equivalent to a PC of the same level, but all that means is it’s a crapshoot who wins that fight (technically, an extreme encounter vs. one PC). A moderate-threat encounter is one that requires good tactics, or it ends the adventuring day. PF2’s encounter difficulty scale is different from other editions. There are currently no guidelines on how to pace the adventuring day.

Monster building is an art. If Paizo included any specific suggestions on making trade-offs (or any other aspect of design), people would take them as gospel.
I agree monster building is a bit of an art. Unfortunately though, you can take the lack of guidance as gospel now and create some seriously OP monsters.
 

dave2008

Legend
Do you have a reference for that? A quick look didn't turn up anything in the core book or bestiary.
I've heard it mentioned on these forums in several places @Campbell might be able to give you the specific location. However, with a quick check I found this: Page 489 of the core rulebook under tables 10-1: Encounter Budget and 10-2: Creature XP and Role:
It doesn't explicitly state it, but a party level monster is considered a trivial threat. An extreme threat is 4x this (ie one monster for each character), and by definition an extreme threat: "...is likely to be an even match for the characters,..."
 

kenada

Adventurer
Do you have a reference for that? A quick look didn't turn up anything in the core book or bestiary.
Unfortunately, not a direct reference. It’s implied by the role level plays in the system combined with extrapolating from the encounter-building guidelines (a same-level monster is worth 40 XP, which is an extreme-threat encounter for a single PC). I think statements have been made online, but I can’t find a specific citation for that.
 

S'mon

Legend
It doesn't explicitly state it, but a party level monster is considered a trivial threat.
Thanks - yes, now I read the table again, I see that PL+2 is "moderate threat", which was the definition of CR = PL in 3e/PF. So it works out as you say, with 1 PL monster = 1 PC, 2 PL monsters or 1 PL+2 monster = a moderate threat about equal to 2 PCs, and a PL+4 monster = 4 PCs.
 

kenada

Adventurer
I agree monster building is a bit of an art. Unfortunately though, you can take the lack of guidance as gospel now and create some seriously OP monsters.
Yes. The consequence for making monsters that don’t perform at-par with their peers is you’ve broken your ability to use the encounter-building guidelines. However, these monster building rules do advise making adjustments if you notice issues in play. Compared to PF1, PF2 puts a lot more trust in the GM not to be a bad GM.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I am a little confused. I thought in PF2e monster level = character level. However, if I look at a 20th monster, the HP range is from 277-473! This is much more than PCs. I assumed there would then be some sort of formula or real suggestion on how to make such a high HP monster the correct level. However, it only mentions compensating in other areas, but provides no real guidance. It seems to me that it would be very easy to make an overpowered monster with these guidelines. I would think with the tight math of PF2e they could say something like:

If you are using the extreme hp for your monster, use the low AC and at least 1 vulnerability to compensate and maintain the level chosen for the HP.

PS I am not saying that is the correct method, just an idea of what could be done.
IIRC the only guidance is to a) limit the number of extremely good scores/abilities b) balance some good ones with some less good ones and c) think about what "min-maxing" can do (such as if both the to-hit number and the damage number are good, then each attack the monster delivers becomes, double good for want of a better term.

So, no real actual mini-game guidance (that is advice that disables minmaxing) no. They've given us a ballpark filled with... ballparks?

---

That said, who said a monster must have the same hit points of a character of its level?

A level 20 monster having much more hit points than a level 20 character is fine. (At least once you let go of the "monsters need to abide by the PC chargen rules" philosophy)
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I agree monster building is a bit of an art. Unfortunately though, you can take the lack of guidance as gospel now and create some seriously OP monsters.
Well, I'm sure you of all people know better than to min-max some half-assed guidance... :)

All you'd accomplish would be a TPK (not that that has stopped you in the past, Dave :D ;) )

Zapp

"People think it's scary when their players minmax. They should see what happens when the games master starts to."
 

MaskedGuy

Villager
So I actually like these rules because they are simpler than both 1e and Starfinder monster creation :p

Also I kinda feel like lots of people skimmed these because there was actually enough guidance in pdf from what I saw. So feels weird people are complaining about lack of guidance.Plus final book will probably have example of building monster from scratch like unchained did if you really need handholding with these rules.(would be kinda missed opportunity if they didn't)

Like, I could be wrong, but I think these is strong desire from lots of people on this forum for Paizo to fail?
 

S'mon

Legend
Like, I could be wrong, but I think these is strong desire from lots of people on this forum for Paizo to fail?
I remember ca 2010-2012 talking about how Paizo was kicking WotC's bottom and getting a lot of hostility. Then ca 2015+ talking about how WoTC was kicking Paizo's bottom and getting a lot of hostility from the 'other side'.

As far as personal preference goes, I'm likely to stick with 5e D&D for GMing and use Paizo material for adventures. But having played a session of PF2 it seems a fun game, at least while the GM is willing to build my sword & board human Fighter for me. :D The 3-action economy certainly seems like a nice bit of streamlined design, though I don't think I'll ever reconcile with iterative attack penalties.
 

dave2008

Legend
A 20th lvl fighter will have more than 300 hp, a 20th lvl barbarian more than 350.
Yes, they are more than 100 HP less then the highest monster total (and wizards are more than 100 HP less than the lowest monster total). That is a 25%-50% swing from PCs to Monsters. That feels significant to me.

I'm not really complaining - I love me some tough monsters ;) , it is just not what I expected.
 

dave2008

Legend
Also I kinda feel like lots of people skimmed these because there was actually enough guidance in pdf from what I saw. So feels weird people are complaining about lack of guidance.Plus final book will probably have example of building monster from scratch like unchained did if you really need handholding with these rules.(would be kinda missed opportunity if they didn't)
I can't tell you what is or isn't enough guidance for you and I could make a monster from these rules (heck I could do it without these rules). However, I think with the strong math of this game they could have made it much simpler and use that extra space to discuss modifications in greater detail. I guess I was, based on the core rulebook, expecting something better, IMO.

Like, I could be wrong, but I think these is strong desire from lots of people on this forum for Paizo to fail?
Just the opposite for me. I hope it succeeds and some of the good ideas in PF2e are integrated into D&D (5.5e or 6e) in the future (or PF inegrates some of the good ideas from 5e in the future)
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Yes, they are more than 100 HP less then the highest monster total (and wizards are more than 100 HP less than the lowest monster total). That is a 25%-50% swing from PCs to Monsters. That feels significant to me.

I'm not really complaining - I love me some tough monsters ;) , it is just not what I expected.
Monsters that have weaknesses have more hp to compensate. Some monsters have extremely low AC or saves for their level also have significantly higher hp to compensate. There's more variability built into monsters at both ends than Player Characters.

As an example a Balor has 480 hit points, but a PC who takes advantage of its weaknesses can do as much as 60 extra damage per strike. A 20th level Monk with fist wraps that have the holy and frost runes attached who lands 3 strikes could do 180 extra damage to the Balor above and beyond what they would normally do.

As another example a zombie shambler is level -1 has an AC of 12, 20 hit points, is permanently slowed 1 so it only 2 actions, and has weakness 5 to positive and slashing damage. That AC means a typical first level Barbarian hits it on a 5 and scores a critical hit on a 15. Those hits do 5 extra damage with a slashing weapon like a bastard sword and if the Barbarian is raging and has the spirit instinct it takes 10 extra damage. They also take negative healing so if the party is facing a bunch of them a Cleric could cast a 3 action heal that would do d8 damage to every zombie in 30 feet while healing all their allies. Since this is positive damage it would also do 5 extra damage to each zombie.

In short while a monster is supposed to be an even match for a player character of that level it does not meant they are built like player characters. Monsters tend to be more resilient than Player Characters when you go against them where they are strong, but less resilient when you hit them where they weak. This is that puzzle box design where players are rewarded for knowing what they are up against and exploiting weaknesses.
 

dave2008

Legend
Monsters that have weaknesses have more hp to compensate. Some monsters have extremely low AC or saves for their level also have significantly higher hp to compensate. There's more variability built into monsters at both ends than Player Characters...

..In short while a monster is supposed to be an even match for a player character of that level it does not meant they are built like player characters. Monsters tend to be more resilient than Player Characters when you go against them where they are strong, but less resilient when you hit them where they weak.
I get all of that, but this is a discussion of the design guide for monsters, not the monsters in the Bestiary. IMO, the guidelines don't really help me make monsters that match the Bestiary. They don't give me worthwhile guidance on how to balance the various dials and knobs they offer to make an interesting monster. That is my issue, not whether or not you can have high HP and low HP or vulnerabilities and resistances, but how you apply them to make a level monster.

I do want to clarify what I am discussing in terms of "guidance." There is some helpful discussion about pushing and pulling various aspects of the stats to achieve the right balance. However, since the system math is so tight, as you have often commented on, I expected the monster creation rules would follow. I was expecting mathematical guidance, not just verbal. I was expecting something more, that is all. The document is fine, it is just a disappointment for what i was expecting and think it could be.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
IMO, the guidelines don't really help me make monsters that match the Bestiary.
This.

This is what I meant but you expressed better.

There's nearly nothing about taking wild swings, coming up with cool abilities, making it all come together.

The document lets me create colorless generic monsters. It tells me if these are within bounds for a certain level peg.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I have seen several designer interviews and streams on Twitch from the developers. They have indicated that the design guidelines we are seeing in the Gamemastery Guide are essentially their internal design documents dressed up and rewritten for clarity and ease of use. I have no reason to doubt that this is the foundation of their internal design process. I mean we can already see the tremendous amounts of variance in monsters of a given level in the Bestiary.

They do cover lowering accuracy and boosting damage on a strike or doing the reverse. They spend three pages on guidance on how to design abilities.

It feels like you guys are assuming there are some set of more rigorous internal design standards - that there's like some secret sauce they are keeping to themselves. I do not think there is. I think they use these benchmarks, work up a test design, and work it through the paces making adjustments as they go.

A Quick Word on Tight Math : Player character math is fairly tight in the sense of the numbers we see on character sheets, but depending on how players play their characters and utilize the tools they pick up when building their characters even at fairly low levels I have seen a huge amount of variance in the ways that math gets expressed at the table.
 

dave2008

Legend
They do cover lowering accuracy and boosting damage on a strike or doing the reverse. They spend three pages on guidance on how to design abilities.
Covered that in a previous post. I appreciate their effort, I just wanted something more.

It feels like you guys are assuming there are some set of more rigorous internal design standards - that there's like some secret sauce they are keeping to themselves. I do not think there is. I think they use these benchmarks, work up a test design, and work it through the paces making adjustments as they go.
That is nothing remotely like what I feel. I don't care what they use internally, I would just think the could provide us with something more. I was wrong and I am disappointed, but it is not the end of the world.

A Quick Word on Tight Math : Player character math is fairly tight in the sense of the numbers we see on character sheets, but depending on how players play their characters and utilize the tools they pick up when building their characters even at fairly low levels I have seen a huge amount of variance in the ways that math gets expressed at the table.
That is not at all what I'm talking about with regard to the monster building guidelines.
 

BryonD

Adventurer
A Quick Word on Tight Math : Player character math is fairly tight in the sense of the numbers we see on character sheets, but depending on how players play their characters and utilize the tools they pick up when building their characters even at fairly low levels I have seen a huge amount of variance in the ways that math gets expressed at the table.
The upside you have stated here is completely generic and also true of every "quality" TTRPG in existence.

Quite simply, there are things that the players bring to the table and there are things the words printed between the covers of the book bring to the table. Games should be judged based on how they compare to other games when looking at the value the printed words bring.

And the language you use is telling. Players should not be expressing the math. A great story telling system should be built so that the math expresses a reflection of what the players do. But you have nailed the reality here. The math is preordained. So the math is the master and the players are the servants finding ways to express the math.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The upside you have stated here is completely generic and also true of every "quality" TTRPG in existence.

Quite simply, there are things that the players bring to the table and there are things the words printed between the covers of the book bring to the table. Games should be judged based on how they compare to other games when looking at the value the printed words bring.

And the language you use is telling. Players should not be expressing the math. A great story telling system should be built so that the math expresses a reflection of what the players do. But you have nailed the reality here. The math is preordained. So the math is the master and the players are the servants finding ways to express the math.
If you want to actually talk about what the game is like I would be happy to. What's your goal here? It's obviously not to actually engage with me.
 

kenada

Adventurer
I have seen several designer interviews and streams on Twitch from the developers. They have indicated that the design guidelines we are seeing in the Gamemastery Guide are essentially their internal design documents dressed up and rewritten for clarity and ease of use. I have no reason to doubt that this is the foundation of their internal design process. I mean we can already see the tremendous amounts of variance in monsters of a given level in the Bestiary.
While I appreciate that they’ve given us essentially the same tools they use (and fully intend to make use of them), the crux of the issue seems to be that’s too much. In a sense, it’s the opposite of creating a PC. You have the flexibility to do almost anything, but that comes at the cost of essentially having to wear a game designer hat. Most GMs would probably be fine with something a little more prescriptive.
 

Advertisement

Latest threads

In Our Store!

Advertisement

Top